On Tuesday night, I was honored to deliver my second State of the County address as Suffolk County Executive. If you missed it, you can view it here.
I talked about the progress we have made over the first year of our Administration as well as the significant challenges still facing Suffolk County. This year, I declared that the State of our County is "rebuilding" in the wake of crises ranging from our budget to Superstorm Sandy.
As you know, I inherited a budget deficit that was estimated at more than $400 million over three years and rather than continuing the infighting that had ground our county to a halt, I rolled up my sleeves and worked with the Legislature on a number of steps to address that problem, including:
-- Smaller Government: Reduced Suffolk County government by approximately 700 fewer full-time employees, saving taxpayers over $64 million annually;
-- Leadership by Example: Reduced my pay by $22,000, became first employee to pay directly for health insurance and worked with a County Executive staff 30% smaller than the prior Administration;
-- Cut Overtime: Despite 700 fewer employees and challenge of Superstorm Sandy, reduced overtime by $7 million from the prior year;
-- Repaired Relationships: Re-established good relationship with New York State, resulting in Suffolk's most successful legislative session in decades, including establishing Traffic Violations Bureau, saving OTB, additional red light cameras;
-- Bipartisan Budgets: Passed a unanimous, bipartisan balanced budget that did not pierce Governor Cuomo's property tax cap and passed a $150 million budget mitigation plan with unanimous, bipartisan support.
Despite these successes, we know there is still a lot of work to do. We still have a massive structural deficit we must overcome. And we must resolve long-standing conflicts including the future of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility. As you may know, I negotiated a $23 million sale which would protect the patients and workers and would allow the private sector to take over this responsibility at no cost to Suffolk County taxpayers who are now subsidizing this facility by approximately $1 million per month. If we cannot sell Foley, which is my preferred choice, then I stand ready to close it. As I said in my address, "who among you, my colleagues, are prepared to face voters in November and tell them I voted to continue spending your tax dollars on subsidizing a facility that the private sector stands ready to operate at no cost to you?"
I also spoke about the need to jumpstart economic development, tackle the crisis of recidivism and rebuild our region better, smarter and safer in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. We have teams who are taking on these important challenges and making sure we are best using the resources to improve our region.
It continues to be my honor to work seven days a week to make this a better county for ourselves and our families. And I know that if we continue to work hard together that Suffolk County's best days are yet to come.
Suffolk County Executive